In the 1880's, soon after the Washington Street railroad siding was finished at Lowell, a lumber company was founded by James Pinkerton (1847-1921). Pinkerton's wife, Sarah Lodema Sanders (1850-1926), was the daughter of William (1801-1898) and Emma (Harris) Sanders, (1805-1881), Lake County settlers of 1841.
The children of James and Sarah were Cassius David (1867-1939), who was married to Minnie Trump (1871-1950); Amma Edna (1871-1949), who married Bert Nichols (he died in 1894); Emma Ellen 'Bird' Sisson (1873-1969), who married William Sisson (1866-1938); and Grace Lodema (1878-1947) who was married to Julius Claude Rumsey (1877-1937) in 1897.
Pinkerton's lumber yard supplied materials for many of the Lowell homes built before the turn of the century. The directory of 1909 lists the Pinkertons as living on Washington Street near Liberty.
James sold his business in about 1890, and was associated later with his contractor son-in-law, J. Claude Rumsey. The Rumsey firm advertised highly in the early papers, including the '1906 Souvenir Book of Lake County,' where he shows pictures of the fine homes built by his firm.
Among them is the building that now contains the offices of the Odell law firm on East Commercial Ave. and the large home directly south of it. That same year, the Rumsey company built 20,000 feet of cement sidewalks in the Town of Lowell.
James Pinkerton moved to Shelby, where he passed away in 1921 from injuries in a home fire. He was starting a fire in a stove, poured kerosene, and an explosion caused two rooms of the home to burn. He is buried at Pine Grove Cemetery, now called Sanders, southwest of Lowell.
John E. Burns was the owner of the lumber yard on Washington Street in the 1890's when it was called the Lowell Lumber Co., a name used again many decades later. Fred W. Buckley, son of 1849 settler William Buckley, began his lumber career with the Burns company at the age of 16 in 1894, continued on with a new firm when the business was sold in 1898, then left to work for Burns in Chicago, Ill., in 1901.
Burns sold his Lowell Lumber Co. to the Wilbur Lumber Co. in 1898, and Fred Buckley was rehired for the manager's position when he was 22. Buckley stayed on with the Wilbur firm until 1903, when he left to accept a position at the Sheridan Brick Works in Brazil, Ind. He was married to Lotus Metcalf, who died in 1901.
George H. Wilbur, born in Unadilla Forks, N.Y., on Dec. 23, 1839, was the founder of the prosperous Wilbur Lumber Co. in 1875. He served for three years as a lieutenant in Company D, the 9th Ind. Volumteer Infantry, during the Civil War. For some years, the firm operated saw mills in northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. The large yard at Waukesha, Wis., was opened in 1890, and the manufacture of millwork was begun a few years later. At one time, it serviced 500 dealers in the Central States.
In 1950 the firm operated 13 retail yards in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, including those at Cook, Schneider and Lowell. The yard at Belshaw was closed before 1950. Edmund Klemm, formerly of Lowell, was manager of the retail store and yards at Waukesha, and his father, Frederick W. Klemm, was manager at Schneider. Wilbur's main office was in West Allis, Wis.
Moxell married Carrie Bruckman, who passed away in 1902. Their daughter, Velva, who married Harold Littlefield, died in 1949. In 1903 Albert Moxell married Gertrude Alyea (who died in 1943). Their daughters are Marjorie D., who married Huron Ruge, and Ardetta, married to Floyd Hamilton.
From the 1956 newspaper at the time of his death: "Bart was marked for outstanding success, both in business and social life, being endowed with a keen sense of humor and exceptional intelligence." He enjoyed playing an instrument in a band formed by J. Claude Rumsey that performed for parades and band concerts in the Lowell area.
The Moxell family lived for a time in the large home just west of the lumber yard, on the site of the present Patricia's School of the Dance. In later decades their home was a spacious one adjoining the town square, now Senior Citizens Park.
After Moxell retired as manager, Roy Brumbaugh was transferred from another yard to take his place. Brumbaugh stayed on with the firm until 1960, when he joined the new Lowell Lumber Co. on Commercial Ave. He later became one of the founders of Tri-Creek Lumber Co., with yards on the east end of Lowell.
His brother, LaMoine Brumbaugh, then managed both the Wilbur Yards at Lowell and at Cook for about two years. LaMoine now owns Cedar Lake Lumber Co. and several other yards in Indiana. In the early 1960's, the yard at Lowell was sold and the buildings torn down. The new owners, John Black and Cecil Hayes, built a car wash on the site. The building is still there, but not in operation.
Some of the other employees of the Wilbur Lumber Co. at Lowell were: Byrl Cornell, John McMann, Floyd Hamilton, Harold Littlefield, Roy Sheffer, Irene Karlson, Merrill Cleaver, Raymond Nelson, and Fred Klemm.
The following interesting prices are from a bill of sale at the Wilbur Lumber Co. at Lowell, May 21st, 1900: "40 feet Porch Rail, all for $2.40; 12 foot of Crown moulding, all for 27 cents; and 56 feet of 7/8-inch cove for 28 cents total." The cost of building a large home in 1916 was about six thousand dollars.
Information for this story was obtained from conversations with Ardetta (Moxell) Hamilton, Inice (Sisson) Tribbey, LaMoine Brumbaugh, Roy Brumbaugh, Irene Karlson, from Ball's History of Lake County, 1904, and from Wilbur Lumber Company's Book of their 75th Anniversary in 1950, loaned by L. Brumbaugh.
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